Home / Commentary  / Why Canadians Must Unite to Oppose LNG Pipelines and Terminals NOW

Why Canadians Must Unite to Oppose LNG Pipelines and Terminals NOW

by James West

I am all for energy development. I understand the relationship between the Canadian economy and energy production. And thanks to Enbridge’s (NYSE:ENB, TSE:ENB)intense media campaign in support of pipeline expansion, I also understand that without pipelines, we won’t have hospitals. At least, that appears to be the connection I’m supposed to deduce from their ubiquitous commericals.

I understand that it is, in part, our economic viatlity that makes Canada perhaps the most-prized immigration destination for the rest of the world. But I also understand, embrace, celebrate and defend the other aspect of Canada that makes it such a wonderful country to live in: its natural and pristine environment.

Nowhere in Canada is the unsullied nature of the natural environment more extant than on the West Coast of British Columbia. The first thing that strikes anybody with a functioning sense of smell notices when they step out of the airport is that beautiful, heart-swelling air that fills your lungs with a stimulating mixture of sea and forest scent.

I furthermore comprehend that a lot of Canadians don’t get it, or to be fair, believe that economic interest trumps ecological protection.

Five LNG plants equals 1,000 shipments per year

It is precisely that mentatlity that needs to be guarded against, and is just such a mentality that would embrace the idea of transporting the world’s dirtiest hydrocarbons over mountains and through valleys to our west coast for shiploading and setting sail along said coast where the risk of catastrophe is massive.

The alarming aspect of this whole development is the fact there are multiple applications for multiple pipelines, bitumen facilities and LNG plants that will, completely eradicate the pristine nature of the entire west coast of Canada. The Northern Gateway pipeline, for example, will result in an LNG processing plant that will see 200 ships each year sailing back and forth out of the north from Kitimat.

Currently, there are as many as 5 LNG terminals on the drawing board for the west coast. If each one loads 200 ships per year, thats 1,000 shipments per year plying our notoriously treacherous coast.

The chances of that volume of shipping resulting in no accidents has got to be on the order of “slim to none”.

Sell it all now and suffer in the future

Large energy and shipping corporations are publicly traded companies. That mean the senior managment of these entities are informed by shareholder demand for quarter-on-quarter performance. Corporations do not make provisions for their business out in the distant future. This translates directly into a case where the economic interests of the corporations managing our natural resources are in direct conflict to the economic interests of future Canadians.

If we rush to build all this LNG capacity, and then deplete our reserves of LNG, what condition will that leave the Canadian economy in say, 2050? Surely there must be an obligation to preserve as much as possible cheap energy sources for the future.

People driving corporations who stand to profit directly from the development of LNG export infrastructure are the only ones driving this agenda. Them, and the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I for one am not willing to fast-track the development of LNG export infrastructure before there has been a methodical long term economic assessment of multiple components of this new endeavour.

We need to stop this process dead in its tracks immediately. The amount of money being directed at PR and lobbying efforts indicates that the democratic process is being hijacked.

We need to subject the questions of LNG export infrastructure development right now.

  • Rudolph Gaerty October 24, 2013

    I read with great interest this article however there seems to be a very selfish tone in this article. It is a fact that every human consuming a manufactured product will inevitably have done with the near certainty that they have contributed to a degredation in the environment of one form or another either in their own backyard or someone else’s. Mining of metals help in the production of cars which generate so many North American jobs. Oil and Gas products result directly in the manufacture of plastics as well as precious source of fuel which is used in transport of goods and people. Canada has for several years been a source of natural gas to Americans and as a direct result of a devastating tsunami, Japanese thirst for LNG has soared placing immense pressures on the rest of the Asian markets. At the same time American demand has diminished and has now a near balanced production with prices fetched much lower than they used to be. Would a Canadian rather see the natural Gas transported south and see the Americans make the profit? Would the prospect of a forced nuclear restart within a country with huge risks of earthquakes be potentially a better prospect for the world than the sacrifice of a limited albeit pristing part of Canada’s landscape which is a sacrifice which will yield thousands of Canadian jobs and billions in foreign generated revenues and at the same time allow the Asian market prices to balance themselves out onto newer lower territory. An industrialized world requires sacrifices from everyone. No one is forcing you to do it. I just feel that many countries would have ministers giving an arm and a leg to be in your privileged position to supply other nations with precious energy resources. There shall be within the next 10-20 years new technologies as well as massive evolution of existing ones that shall significantly limit the use of fossil fuels and if you do not exploit it now, one day you might end up sitting on reserves that will have much less value than what they do today. Another way of looking at it would be an ice cube melting in a cup. Any pipeline, could in the future, be removed. A massive windfall of profits and revenue could also contribute greatly to the creation of higher standards for people to enjoy for many years to come.

    • James West October 24, 2013

      I do admit my perspective on this is purely self-interested. I live on an island on the west coast of British Columbia, and those ships would be coming and going in waters close by.

      It is precisely because we are in the waning era of fossil fuels that the risk of catastrophic environmental events outweighs the possible economic benefit of racing to supply asian hydrocarbon appetite. Considering the huge number of LNG plants and ships under construction right now globally, there is every possibility that by the time we are able to participate in the market, the price of gas will be even further depressed by increasing supplies, and render the whole enterprise economically marginal at best. Selfishly, I don’t think those of us who have made this part of the world our home are really interested in permitting that risk to be taken by national energy companies with a dismal track record of operational integrity. I think we’d prefer to keep the coastline wild and natural for as long as possible, even if it means higher taxes.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • G Macchiavello October 24, 2013

    Both things are compatible if properly managed . When I read this articles is when I realize people’s lack of knowledge of what it takes to have the lights on or many things you take for granted operating. It is amazing when people talks about renewables. All renewables leave a footprint that changes and alters the environment. Flooded areas, visual impact, noise from the wind turbines!!! Electric cars? Great? Realize that were charged with electricity generated by a coal power plant or gas or nuclear…

    There are other variables to be considered: Employment, poverty, countries revenues

    The guideline should be: How do we make these necessities compatible with environment conservation!!! FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!!


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